Every spring, millions of visitors make their way to our nation's capital to sit among the delicate pink petals. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival—which typically lasts from late March to early April—not only includes a beautiful display by Mother Nature, but it also features a parade, a kite festival, multiple dance performances, music, food, and fireworks. So, how can you make the most of your 'statecation' and see all of the magic in just a few days? We've got the best spots right here...
Probably the most popular spot to see the blooming branches, Tidal Basin has become the epicenter for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Completely surrounded by soft white and pale pink Yoshino trees, this reservoir offers both spectacular views of the nearby monuments and incredible photo ops (there's a reason this particular spot gets so crowded during the festival). If you're trying to avoid crowds, but still want to enjoy the festival activities, we suggest attending the lantern lighting ceremony. Every year, on the second Sunday of the festival, the Japanese Embassy appoints a Cherry Blossom Princess to light the stone lantern that sits on the north side of Tidal Basin and honor the peaceful relations between the United States and Japan.
Even if you aren't sure what the Thomas Jefferson Memorial looks like, chances are you've seen it in numerous photographs, perfectly flanked by budded cherry trees. This iconic dome-shaped building, located on the south side of Tidal Basin, is not only prime for blossom viewing but it also hosts a variety of events and speakers throughout the entire festival. Thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt—who contacted the Commission of Fine Arts directly about creating a memorial for his hero, Thomas Jefferson—this stunning memorial now serves as a lovely spot along the Tidal Basin two-mile loop. If you can, be sure and pay it a visit at sunset, when the colors of the sky nearly mirror that of the cherry trees.
Continuing along the Tidal Basin loop, our next stop is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. A quiet, peaceful place to rest, this beautiful stone display is heavily shaped by water. In fact, tour guides describe the symbolism of the five main water areas as representations of pivotal moments throughout FDR's presidency. This is a perfect spot to rest under the budding branches and admire both the geometric landscape and the adorable statue of FDR's Scottish Terrier, Fala.
Sitting just north of FDR and Fala, at the very end of a long, sleek pool, we find the Lincoln Memorial. Despite being slightly removed from the main Tidal Basin loop, the Lincoln Memorial has no shortage of cherry trees. At the peak of spring, the massive Roman-style building is almost completely buried in blossoms and new leaves. Impress your family and friends and share this fun fact: The marble pillars upon which Lincoln rests his arms on look like bundles of wood—a Roman design that has represented a position of power for centuries.
Positioned in front of the National Academy of Sciences building sits a detailed statue surrounded by flowers. And while the man in the statue was never president, nor did he ever hold a political position, he is still extremely influential. The Albert Einstein Memorial will be a quick stop on your tour, but it's definitely worth checking out. And there's no better time to pay your respects to this brilliant mind than during spring, when the cherry blossoms and rhododendrons come alive and surround Einstein in a sea of pink and purple.
To really take advantage of the Cherry Blossom Festival and experience its many activities, we suggest spending a long weekend in the city. This allows ample time to see many of the surrounding sites, without feeling rushed. Booking a room at the Holiday Inn Capitol will keep you close to the festivities and offer some beautiful views of the blossoms. After a long day of site-seeing, unwind at the rooftop pool. Or kick start your morning with a quick workout in the hotel's impressive gym. And if you're an IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card member, be sure to stay here and earn extra points for your next trip!
During cherry blossom season, the Washington Monument looks like a tall, white arrow sticking out among an endless expanses of fluffy pink petals. We recommend walking the full length of the reflection pool and stopping at the opposite end of the monument to grasp both its size and beauty. And if you really want to look down on all of the pink, pay a small fee and hike to the top of the monument (there is an elevator as well). Here you'll get an incredible view of the D.C. area and a true feel for the magnitude of the cherry blossoms.
Just as the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom during the early spring months, so do the hundreds of tulips, daffodils, peonies, and pansies that cover the grounds of the Floral Library. A nice compliment to the pinks and purples of the surrounding trees, the Floral Library is full of bright colors and an ideal way to spend an afternoon. And for all the garden-lovers out there, there is usually a local gardener on the grounds who can help answer any questions and offer some invaluable advice.
A trip to Washington D.C. is always rewarding, but it seems extra special during cherry blossom season. Everything is awash in delicate pinks, purples, and creams, as petals float and fall from the thousands of cherry trees scattered throughout the city. And thanks to partners like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, taking a trip like this can provide both an abundance of savings and petal-filled memories.
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